Trial begins Tuesday for player beaned by Wichita State pitcher

Monday, February 4, 2002

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Anthony Molina batted .300 or better each season for Evansville before he was beaned while standing on-deck during a game at Wichita State three years ago.

The second baseman's eyesight had been flawless and he had visions of a pro baseball career -- even if it was a longshot.

That all ended on April 23, 1999. Molina, standing 24 feet from home plate, was hit in the left eye by a fastball that he believes was deliberately thrown at him by Wichita State pitcher Ben Christensen.

"My plastic surgeon said what happened to me was like getting hit with a sledgehammer," Molina told The Kansas City Star for a story in Sunday's editions.

On Tuesday, after several attempts at an out-of-court settlement, the case goes to court in Wichita, where Molina is suing Christensen for battery.

He also has a case pending in federal court in Kansas City, Kan., against Christensen, Wichita State coach Gene Stephenson and pitching coach Brent Kemnitz. In that case, which is bogged down in appeals, Molina is suing Christensen for battery and the coaches for negligence.

In all, Molina is suing Christensen for $2 million in damages.

Kemnitz was suspended by the Missouri Valley Conference after admitting he advised pitchers to throw at on-deck batters if they looked like they were timing pitches.

"If I'm driving, and I close my right eye, I can't see the car in front of me," Molina said by phone from his home in Evansville, Ind. "The other day, somebody tossed me their keys. I missed them. It made me wonder how I ever caught a baseball after the injury."

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